By: Jennifer Pafford (@JennieSouce)
As college students, we represent a group of people that are perpetually stressed out almost 24/7. We deal with endless amounts of stressors that seem overwhelming. The rent due date inches closer, school assignments begin to stack up higher, job stress piles on, club meetings are coming, and for me, graduation and the looming job search IS COMING (that’s a Game of Thrones reference, last season coming up and I’m emotional. Oh, and that’s stressful too.)
To add on even more, we all deal with common and sometimes extraordinary life events that often feel like waves crashing over us, over and over again; it makes us feel as though we are literally drowning in stress. So how do we combat this? As someone who is a college senior, I have been dealing with these constant burdens for almost four years. Although I am no expert, there are a myriad of practices I have tried in my life that I think can help others as well. And if you feel like keeping motivation is a HUGE issue (because, same) don’t forget to check out Ella Rechner’s tips on how to stay motivated.
Here’s some of my suggestions:
I know, you hear it all the time and it’s annoying. How dare someone even SUGGEST that you have time to do this? I get it, when you have a free hour in your day the last thing you want to do is go for a run or head to the gym. I’m even finding myself annoying just suggesting this, but exercise has been a huge stress reliever for me. When it’s nice out, I enjoy popping in my headphones and going for a walk or run for just 30 minutes, which feels like a manageable amount of time that I am willing to set aside to do. I also signed up for a subscription on YogaGlo. This is a website and app that provides online yoga classes for anyone, including beginners. You can narrow down what type of yoga you’re looking for, whether that’s morning or night, 15 minutes or an hour, and even which instructor you want. They offer a 15-day free trial so you can experiment, and if you enjoy it, it’s only $18 per month!
Stop. Drinking. So. Much. Coffee.
For many college students, we already live with diagnosed anxiety, and caffeine can have a crazy effect on those with already anxious minds. Caffeine can elevate cortisol levels, which are the stress hormones in our bodies. When we’re already stressed, these cortisol levels are already heightened, and an increase in caffeine intake only makes matters worse. I am the WORST perpetrator when it comes to coffee (one venti iced coffee with vanilla and an extra shot of espresso please!) When I was stressed, and drank multiple coffees in a day, I found that I felt 5x more stressed out and I couldn’t understand why. I felt way more panicked about assignments and other stresses as the day went on, post-coffee. Realizing that coffee was the culprit, I have slowly weaned off having multiple cups in a single day and stick to one. I also found a great alternative in green tea. Green tea still contains caffeine, but a lower amount so it still has an effect when I’m lacking those 8 hours of sleep at night (so every day), but doesn’t make my stress feel more elevated.
Planners Save Lives.
Sometimes I look back on my high school days and truly wonder to myself how I completed assignments and kept everything straight in my life without an agenda (and why I filled in my eyebrows with black eyeliner, but that’s beside the point). I relied completely on my memory alone, and I cannot imagine navigating college without my planner. My planners and calendars have been a great way for me to relieve my stress by keeping my assignments and due dates in order, remembering my work schedule, meetings, and my other day-to-day activities. In the beginning of each semester, I assign a different color to each of my classes, and then go through each syllabus and write down every assignment, due date, reading, presentation dates and so on. When I turn each page in my planner, everything is already laid out. I also find that having a planner with a section for weekly tasks already laid out allows me to bullet point all of the goals I have for the week. It makes me feel accomplished when I can cross something off that list (honestly this feeling alone can make me feel a high that no drug can). Planners also allow me to organize assignments from the most important and pressing to the least; by doing so, assignments are completed ahead of time and I don’t feel panicked when due dates inch closer.
Don’t Forget to Catch Your ZZZs.
In college, getting enough sleep seems like an unfeasible, unreachable and unrealistic goal that many do not accomplish. Doctors say that the average person should get 7-9 hours of sleep at night (all the college students collectively begin cackling at the idea of actually getting that much rest), which many cannot obtain due to work schedules or the endless amounts of homework students have each day. Admittedly, sleep is incredibly important to me as I become a less enjoyable person to be around when I don’t get enough rest. However, getting a good night’s sleep can make you feel well rested to tackle your day and accomplish all your goals.
Take Off One Day Per Week.
As the Man upstairs suggested, Sunday is the Sabbath Day, a day to rest. In order to maintain some sense of normalcy and relaxation in your week, it is SO important to make sure one day out of the week is put aside to do nothing. For me, that day is Saturday, a day I usually do not work. On Saturdays, I do the things that make me happy, whether that’s grabbing drinks with my roommates, chilling out at home and watching TV, or curling up with my cat and reading a book. I purposefully strive to not look at my planner or calendar, check my emails, or clean my apartment because Saturday is my day for relaxation. For many, I realize this is not a feasible task as many have to work nights and weekends (I’m looking at you restaurant workers, you’re the true heroes). However, even striving for just a few hours of “nothingness” can do wonders for relieving stress.
So as April is National Stress Awareness Month, it is only appropriate that we continue the conversation surrounding stress not only for college students, but those in all stages of life. Once you learn how to manage your own stress levels, you will be able to carry those strategies into your future. Hopefully these tips help you maintain a manageable lifestyle and balance your time so that college isn’t completely overwhelming. So in celebration of National Stress Awareness Month, I encourage you to remember that stress is only temporary and these simple tips can help reduce yours immensely.
Jennifer Pafford is a senior double majoring in Communications and Political Science. She has
been a member of GV’s PRSSA since her freshman year and has gained so much helpful
knowledge and experiences that she hopes to use in her future professional career. She hopes to eventually move across the sea to London. In her free time, she enjoys reading up on the political happenings of the world (and there is SO much), watching Real Housewives, or playing with her cat.